Three Men on Motorcycles: The Amigos Ride To Ladakh
Three Men on Motorcycle: The Amigos Ride to Ladakh by Ketan Joshi is the funniest travelogue I've ever read. The other two travelogues that I read and found exceedingly humorous were Mark Twain’s The Innocents Abroad and J. K. Jerome’s Three Men in a Boat. The Innocents Abroad had some serious doses of History, that as an Indian I didn’t find much interest in. The same goes with the description and histories narrated in Jerome’s classic.
Unlike the two classics I just mentioned, Ketan Joshi’s Three Amigos Ride to Ladakh made me feel at home. There were pilgrims marring the scenic beauty, the indecisive and adamant officer at a border check post, tourists polluting mountain lakes, the lazy and incompetent goods clerk, and not to mention the police trying to find an excuse to extort money – all these make us Indians feel very much at home. Then comes the most important part: the destination is Ladakh.
I’ll tell you how I came across this book. I first borrowed it from Amazon’s Kindle Unlimited, read it and then decided I should have it in my collection. So I bought it – not the ebook of course – but the hardcover. There are a few books that you read a number of times in your lifetime. You had a terrible day in your office, you had a break up, you’ve shifted to a new town and missing your old buddies – all you need is a book that can make you love your life again. That book shouldn’t be an ebook. Hell, no!
The first thing you notice about Three Men on Motorcycles is its intimate style of narrating things. The whole thing is extremely informal. Though it certainly comes under the travel genre, this book is more about the kind of relationship you have with your best friends. You swear at each other, you insult and make fun of each other, you are downright mean to each other, but despite it all, you can’t live without each other. Three Amigos are just like that. They drink rum together, smoke weed together, but most importantly, they ride their Royal Enfields together. If you have even one friend like them, you should consider yourself extremely rich.
Alright! Now there is a fourth person, Bharathi, who though physically not present with the amigos, keeps guiding them through cellphones, emails and sometimes when there’s no network, through her minions. “UTHO REY. UTHO REY.” They say. That drives them into ‘perpetual motion’ besides driving them crazy. I must mention something here though. The idea of Bharathi taking possession of humans and animals and controlling them remotely, her getting inside Ketan’s mind and making suggestions therefrom – they were doubtlessly funny. But I also found them interfering into and sometimes obstructing the smooth flow of the story. The idea was good when it started, then it was used again and again. By the time I reached the end of this book, it became so dull that I actually started to skip anything written in all-caps because they were supposed to be related directly or indirectly to Bharathi.
There is hardly anything that’s still or static in this book. It’s like a motion picture. It’s like The Motorcycle Diaries, only less philosophical. But that is because the three friends are in ‘perpetual motion’. There is history, there are descriptions, but they are brief and humorous. Even reading the history will make you smile. There is hardly a paragraph in this book that you read without laughing out loud. The literary style is lean. There is nothing that is unnecessary. If there’s anything that isn’t related to Three Amigos, then probably it’s never mentioned in this book. I read a lot of contemporary literature. The verbosity scares me. Not even once in this book had Ketan Joshi overridden the law of brevity. Comparing this book with The Adventures of Dipy Singh Private Detective by the same author, will give you some idea about the giant leap he has taken in quality of his compositions.
Do present Three Men on Motorcycles: The Amigos Ride to Ladakh to your son on his 18th birthday.